Top 3 Common Pregnancy-Related Relationship Conflicts -- And What to Do

arguments.pngIf you are pregnant and in a relationship, there are many factors at play that determine how easygoing -- or not -- your relationship will be during this time. This includes how strong your relationship and communication were pre-pregnancy; whether your pregnancy was planned or wanted; and what other life stressors are taking place in your lives simultaneously during pregnancy. 

Regardless, during pregnancy, there will likely be times where the two of you encounter conflict with each other, either brought on by or made worse by pregnancy. Below, I've listed the three most common reasons for conflict/arguments during pregnancy as a couple, and tips for how to approach these issues. 

Lack of Empathy/Understanding

Only one of you is pregnant, and even if your partner is one of the most empathetic persons you know, they will not truly understand what you're going through. This can lead to conflicts caused by things like one person feeling isolation, pressure to feel/behave a certain way, emotions (from surges in hormones) running higher than usual, and a difference in needs. 

One of the best ways to address this common issue during pregnancy is through open communication. Expressing your needs clearly, without attacking the other person (who comes in with their own needs, perceptions, and viewpoint), and with compassion and validation for their feelings, is of utmost importance.

For example, if you're feeling as though your partner is not/does not want to be involved enough in the day-to-day of your pregnancy pregnancy/the baby, first express how you're feeling (without attacking): "I'm feeling alone in this pregnancy. Since I'm the one carrying the baby and going to regular prenatal appointments, it feels like I'm the only one going through this experience, even though it's our baby. I'm missing the kind of connection we had before pregnancy, and even though things are different, I miss you."

Provide the chance for your partner to respond with their own side of the experience (without interrupting/negating feelings). You may be surprised to find that your partner is finding it hard to relate to you and the pregnancy, and feeling isolated in the experience, too. Together, brainstorm ways the two of you can better connect and get your needs met respectfully. Perhaps it means that your partner comes to prenatal appointments, and that once a week you have dinner discussing only things unrelated to pregnancy, reminding each other of your connection and relationship pre-pregnancy. 

Sex

It's very normal for sexual interest to change during pregnancy, for both partners. This could mean that either the pregnant person or the partner has an increase or decrease in desire for sex. Or, that the partner has the same interest while the pregnant person's interest wanes. This is often a touchy and frustrating topic for most couples -- pregnant or not. As with other issues, open communication is key.

Sometimes, a need for sex is about sex. Other times, a desire for sex is actually about fulfilling a need for closeness and intimacy, which does not necessarily have to involve sex. If you're not up for sex as regularly during pregnancy, find other ways to fulfill both of your needs for bonding and intimacy. If you're in need of increased space and physical/touch limits, be clear about those needs with your partner.

Often, partners misinterpret the need for space as a loss of interest and love for them from you. This is not typically the case. A healthy sexual relationship is one in which both boundaries and desires are respected and fulfilled. It's common in a relationship for both boundaries and desires to be different -- seek out where they come together. Boundaries must always be respected. Desires must not always be fulfilled because -- boundaries.  If sex and intimacy is the source of repeated conflict and upset in your relationship, it may help to see a therapist who specializes in that area. 

Baby's Name

For some couples, choosing and settling on a name for baby is a tough and fraught experience. Perhaps one person has had a name in their heart since childhood, but the other one wants to honor a loved one -- it's a disagreement riddled with emotions and passion. It's not uncommon for couples to argue over name choice. If you have these tips handy, however, you can hopefully approach this conflict with more patience and empathy. 

If a naming war erupts, first decide to stop talking about names. Not forever, of course, but for a while. Continuing to argue in the face of fight-or-flight hormones surging does not a good outcome produce. After some time, both of you will have the chance to cool off -- distance almost always allows you to approach an issue with more calm and patience.

Then, when you decide to discuss names again, schedule a good time to do so. Put it in the calendar if need be! The end of the work day or in the morning before work usually are not ideal times. Pick a time when you both are rested and not feeling pressured to be anywhere. Open up the discussion by asking each other what about your preferred baby name is important. Try and really get to the root of what is important to the other person. Understanding how and why a person is motivated by a certain choice helps you have empathy for their feelings, and often allows more space for gentle and even joyful compromise.

In the end, most name choices will come down to compromise -- both parties will have to give a little. Ultimately, that is the cornerstone of a good, solid relationship, and knowing that you each are working toward giving to each other can lend itself to a closer, more connected bond. 

 

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